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The Evolution of Mental Illness

I was recently participating in a discussion on Facebook about the negative voices that live in our heads, and heka that can be done to keep them at bay. In the post that was sparking the discussion, the author suggests that giving the negative voices in our heads a name and a form can help us to sit down and discuss things with them. It allows us to interact with parts of ourselves so that we can learn more about who we are, and more importantly, what causes some of these voices to speak up as they do. The long-term goal, as far as I could tell, was that by conversing with these voices, you’d hear less from them in time.

This got me thinking about the voices that pop up in my own head. Of course, I’m not talking about the voice of the gods or spirits that I work with. I’m talking about the voices that often tell me that I suck, or that remind me that I’m not doing as much as I’d like (often stated as “not doing as much as I should“). I’m talking about negative voices that often come with mental illness.

The more I began to mull over what those voices that embody my mental illness try to tell me is the “proper” reality that I live in, the more it really hit home that conversing with my internal voices probably wouldn’t do much for me. Why? Because I’ve found over the years that my mental illness evolves. You see, when I was younger, those voices would still tell me that I suck, but they’d use different reasons to showcase why it is that I suck. For example, when I was younger, I was a lot more isolated from other people, and I was frequently wracked with loneliness. So my voices would remind me about how no one really liked me, and how I could very easily just disappear and no one would notice, and I believed what my mental illness told me because I had nothing to prove them wrong. But now that I’ve worked through some of that baggage? It’s no longer used against me. If my voices want to bring me down, they know that that angle won’t work anymore, and so they choose a different soft point to poke at (such as “this particular person doesn’t like you and never will because you suck” etc.)

This is probably even remotely possible for me to detect on my end because of the shadow work that I’ve done over the past several years. I feel as though my trudging through life with all of my issues was a relatively plateaued affair until I began to actively hack at it in my late twenties via shadow work. Or in other words, my mental illness could hit me in the same spots over and over again when I was younger because I wasn’t making leaps and bounds worth of changes in the mental illness arena. The same issues and concerns I had in late high school were relatively similar to the issues and concerns I had in my early twenties. It only really shifted once I began the shadow work process.

But this highlights for me one of the ultimate caveats to shadow work that doesn’t seem to be spoken about enough–sometimes all the shadow work in the world won’t actually fix everything. I know I talked about this briefly in my post about shadow work being an ongoing process, but it really hit me hard when I realized that as I was beginning to learn how to outwit and overcome my mental illness, my mental illness was evolving to learn how to outwit me.

A side effect of this is that the voices have changed their ‘sales pitch’ to fit whatever topic is the most damaging at any given point in time. Once upon a time, my anxiety and depression could get away with telling me just about anything, and I’d believe it. But now they both have to work a little harder by formatting their statements a certain way in order for me to listen.

This probably sounds like an improvement, and in some ways it is. Due to the work I’ve put in, I can now shrug off certain statements that my brain will fling at me, and certain topics are relatively harmless to my mental health (in comparison to before). But don’t get me wrong–just because these mental illnesses seem to have to work a little harder to figure out what to tell me to get me to sink doesn’t mean that it’s still not effective. Nearly two years of being in mental illness hell is proof that these illnesses are very much in full swing and are effective at crippling me when they want to.

Another way to possibly illustrate it is to compare it to holes in a boat. If I have a boat that has a large hole in the bottom, there is no getting away from the fact that that sucks. Boats with holes don’t float very well. But let’s say that I learn how to somewhat patch this hole up, and now I have two smaller holes instead of one large one–some might consider that an improvement, but my boat still has holes in it. And that’s how I feel when I look at how my mental illness has shifted over the years. In some ways it’s an improvement, but I still have to live with mental illness. And that mental illness is still damned effective at doing what it does despite all of my best efforts.

The biggest point I really wanted to emphasize here is that shadow work will only do so much. Not many of us emphasize it enough, but there is no getting away from that fact: shadow work, therapy, all of these things that we use to try and heal ourselves from our trauma–they only go so far for some things. All of the shadow work in the world won’t erase mental illness, nor will it fix everything. You can definitely wage war against mental illness and push it back a bit, but just like isfet, it is always there lurking at the corners of ones mind. Just like with the gods working to maintain ma’at, the work we put in to stay as healthy as possible with mental illness is a non-stop, never-ending process.

And similarly, if you find that you’ve been working for years trying to get headway with your mental illness, but find that you’re still only treading water, please know this: you’re not alone. Fighting against mental illness is hard and it’s a non-stop battle, and you’re not less for not being able to squash your mental illness down entirely. While so much of the world seems to want to imply that you can somehow teach your mental illness a thing, and make it so that it no longer effects you, that’s simply not true (and honestly smacks against the fact that it’s an illness). And if my experiences are any indication at all, as you improve at waging war against your illness, your illness could get more adept at waging war against you.

Because I haven’t said it enough, remember that shadow work is a tool in your toolbox, and the same way that a hammer doesn’t work that great for putting screws into something, sometimes shadow work isn’t the right tool for the job. Sometimes you’ll do your shadow work exactly as you’re supposed to, and you’ll still come out not completely healed. This isn’t necessarily your fault, but is the nature of living in imperfect bodies that are often riddled with illness. You’re not bad for not being able to fix an incurable illness. You’re not bad for not being able to “magic” such things away. And don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.

Have you found that shadow work only goes so far with mental illness? How do you combat this? Have you found that your illness has evolved or changed it’s “angle of attack” over the years?

 

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The Internet Lacks Object Permanence

Over the years of interacting with people over the Internet, I’ve noticed that many people online seem to lack some amount of object permanence when it comes to other Internet users. Now, this isn’t object permanence in the strictest sense, obviously. I’m fairly certain that most of us have the ability to “understand that objects continue to exist even when they cannot be observed (seen, heard, touched, smelled or sensed in any way)”. But just because we get it on a superficial level doesn’t mean that it’s actually being absorbed and utilized on a deeper level.

Object permanence: what it is, and how I’m relating it to religion

For those of you who have never heard of the concept of object permanence, it’s basically the concept that you understand that things exist, even if you can’t see or experience  them directly. It’s something that most people develop when they’re still a toddler (there are some exceptions to this, as some disorders involve having difficulty with object permanence), and so most of you reading this probably do understand that when I place a cup in the cabinet and close the door, the cup still exists inside of the cabinet, even if you can’t see it. Your inability to experience this cup directly doesn’t make it suddenly vanish from existence.

You’d think that a group of people who spends a lot of time talking about entities that none of us can touch or see in the physical sense would have a really firm grasp of object permanence. In many ways, our entire religious experience is a drawn-out exercise in object permanence. We can’t necessarily experience our gods directly (as in: we can’t touch them, see them, or talk with them the way that we would a human), and so nearly everything that we do requires utilizing object permanence in order to be effective or successful in what we’re doing as practitioners.

However, it seems that many of us have a blind spot in our object permanence: other practices and how they are presented on the Internet by co-religionists. I think that objectively we understand that many of us aren’t talking about the entirety of our practices online, but it seems that many of us forget that on the regular. It seems that for a large portion of Internet users, if you’re not actively talking about it or posting about it, it doesn’t exist.

To use my cup and cabinet metaphor above, if I decide to keep part of my practice (the cup) in the cabinet because I don’t wish to share it with you (aka: I don’t post about it online), then a lot of people assume that the parts of my practice that are in the cabinet (the parts of my practice that I don’t openly discuss) don’t exist.

Or in other words, because I haven’t dredged up every aspect of my practice and put it on display for you, I’m obviously not doing those things ever, and those “missing” parts of my practice don’t exist.

Building roadblocks out of assumptions

This habit can be very damaging on multiple levels. First of all, it can create a very hostile environment where practitioners may use their assumptions (aka: assuming the cup stops existing because it’s in the cabinet) to berate or chastise other practitioners. This seems to manifest in a lot of ways, but the most common that I’ve seen is that people assume that because everyone only posts funny, lighthearted or “fluffy” stuff online, that none of them is actually serious in their religion or practice. This then bleeds into the belief that others aren’t historically driven enough, serious enough, or legitimate enough because they’re not seeing the “proper markers” to assume that someone isn’t making a joke of this very serious business known as religion.

These assumptions can then create a toxic environment where co-religionists have to worry about appearing “legitimate” enough to their peers in order to be taken seriously or given respect. Some members may feel pressured to over emphasize the “real” parts of their practice so that their peers will give them the time of day. Conversely, others may feel that they need to hide the “less legitimate” portions of their practice, or even stop talking or participating all together because of the pressure to meet this unstated standard of perfection that these assumptions have created for the community.

And as can be seen and witnessed in multiple communities right now, this dichotomy of “good enough” and “not good enough” creates a very large divide within a religion. It creates a divide between those who are deemed as legitimate and those who are not. You are either serious and follow a set protocol, or you are a pleeb who is “ruining our religion” and “disrespecting the gods” because we’re making assumptions about what your practice consists of based off of what you say online. The fact that you may go away from your computer where you’ve just posted 10 sparkly NTR gifs for funsies and are about to do a 3 hour long ritual means nothing if you’re not posting it online.

Destroying roadblocks by destroying our assumptions

To be honest, every time I see an instance of someone forgetting that people don’t display every aspect of themselves or their religious practice online, I get very sad. To me, it seems like such a waste to spend all of our time comparing practices and telling others that they’re doing it wrong because they don’t meet our own personal criteria for what makes a practice “correct.” It’s one thing if a community member is being problematic or hurting others with their practices, but honestly, if no one is being hurt by what they’re doing, why do we make such a big deal out of it? Why are so many of us more interested in judging how others practice or worship than tending to our own business?

I think the only way to actively work against the lack of object permanence that exists in our online communities is to actively work against our own assumptions that we make. Each of us makes assumptions about what others are doing or not doing, about how legitimate their experiences are or aren’t, and about how serious they may or may not be about their religious practice. We all do it, it’s part of human nature.

What’s important is to actively work against those assumptions, though. Even if you start to assume that someone has something wrong, maybe take a step back and ask yourself if it really matters. Does it really matter that someone sees a god with pink hair? Does it really matter that they’re offering to the gods in plastic solo cups? Does it really matter that people are joking about a god’s butt?

It’s a lot like the yardstick of dickery: is what is being said or done actually hurting anyone, or is it just bugging me? Is there any actual benefit from me saying something?

If the answer to both of these is no, then there isn’t really any need to get upset over it. And it’s important to remember that what we’re seeing online is not the totality of anyone’s practice. Just because someone might appear to be practicing one way online doesn’t mean that that is all that their practice consists of.

And as I’ve said a million times before, if the behaviour is truly damaging to the gods, we should learn to trust that the gods will handle it in their own time using their own methods.

Learning to work together with something as personal and important as religion can be challenging, but the sooner we learn to ease up on our assumptions, the better off things will get. Learning to remember that no one shows every aspect of their practice online is important, as is remembering that different deity-devotee relationships can take different forms. The more that we can work to find common ground between different methods of practice within Kemeticism, the better off our entire community will be.

Do you have issues with assuming too much about others’ practices based off of what they showcase online? Have you ever assumed something about a practitioner’s practice, only to have that assumption proved wrong later on? How do you stop yourself from assuming too much about your co-religionists?

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Posted by on June 22, 2016 in Boat Paddlers Arsenal, Kemeticism, Rambles

 

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A Shrine for Traveling

I love boxes. Boxes are so useful for holding things ever-so-nicely, and they look nice when they’re all stacked up neatly. I have so many decorative boxes laying around my house just waiting for the right stuff to be placed in them. Some might say that I have a problem, but seriously. I love boxes.

I have been holding onto a box for a long time now. For those of you have been hanging around TTR for a while probably recognize this box. It appeared in my Wep Ronpet 2014 photos, and that’s just how long I’ve been holding onto this box, waiting to give it its purpose.

Travel_shrine_closed

Unlike a lot of my other boxes, I knew exactly what stuff I wanted to put inside of it, but I was waiting for the spoons to make it happen. As soon as my SO had removed his headphones from this Beats box, I knew that I wanted to turn it into a travel shrine due to its size and obscurity. I just needed to find the energy to put it together.

Originally, I wanted to make a custom image to go inside of this box. I was going to create a scene where these shrine boxes would be painted on the back of the interior, and then I was going to have offering tables on either side of each god’s shrine, and then possibly cap everything off with images of stars, the sky, and the Nun. As pretty and nice as it sounded, two years in waiting, I never once managed to sit down and make it happen.

A few weeks ago I was at a craft store for something else, and I noticed this really nice geometric paper. It looked pretty and struck me as something that could go inside of my travel shrine box. Since I wasn’t getting around to actually making the art that was supposed to go inside, and I couldn’t tell when I’d actually have the energy or desire to make said art, I thought that this paper might be a nice work around. It’s shiny and pretty and looks expensive, so it’ll totally work, right?

Travel_shrine_Open_002

I’m actually fairly happy that I didn’t do the artwork that I wanted for this shrine piece. Originally, I had wanted to orient the box to be on it’s side, so that the “wing” you see hanging out on the left in the picture above would actually have been laying flat on the ground, with the drawer being beneath the gods, as opposed to being on the left side. However, I ended up making the drawer a little too tall, and Osiris’ statue didn’t fit in ideally in the original orientation, so I decided to flip things on their side (literally). If I had put all of the effort into the artwork, it would have been a very sad day when I went to put the statues in, and found that they didn’t fit.

The gold back plate is made of nothing but paper that has been cut down to the proper size, and formed into a box. I haven’t permanently adhered it to the interior of the box, as it seems to stay in place fairly well all on its own. The drawer is made similarly- of paper that has been cut down to the proper size and shaped into a box. Originally, this box had a divider that was fairly central, but I trimmed down the edges in order to create the space that you see for the drawer. If I wanted, I could have removed the divider entirely, and utilized the entirety of the interior of the box.

Travel_shrine_Open_005

When you first open this travel shrine, you’ll notice that it doesn’t look like much of anything. I kept the original headphone holder as a sort of “cap” to place on top of the shrine before I close it. That way, all of the contents are very secure inside, and if someone gets nosy and opens it, they might get disinterested and not bother to look beneath the cap.

Once you remove the cap, you can see that I have fabric in place to keep my statues safe during transit. On the left, I have placed a portable offering tray and ritual rubric inside of the black sleeve. I also have enough room that I could easily put a book of matches, incense, amulets, or other relatively narrow items inside.

Travel_shrine_Open_003

Shrine when it’s set up.

To the left of the gods’ naos, I have a drawer where I have stored incense, natron, and some votive offerings. It’s very likely that when I’m out traveling, I’m going to offer actual food and water on actual dishes, but I thought it would be nice to have votive offerings to keep the gods fed while the shrine isn’t in use. Plus, if I ever happen to be in a situation where I don’t have access to these things, I will have backups in place. You can also see in the picture above the small rubric that I’ve made.

Close-up of drawer and its contents

Close-up of drawer and its contents

Originally I had wanted to write the offering formula on the drawer, so that way it would relate to the offerings inside. However, I wasn’t sure about the translations that I was finding, and I was doubly not sure about being able to fit an entire offering formula on the front of such a small drawer. So instead I decided to place ma’at feathers on the front. That way the gods are getting their daily dose of ma’at as well.

Some of the other perks of this setup is that I can easily remove the golden back plate and swap it out for something else if I felt like it. That means that one day, I could actually make the art in the correct proportions, and put that in place if I ever got the spoons to do so. I could also write heka and place it behind the back plate, if I wanted. I could also decorate the outside of the box to include more protective heka, but in this case I’d rather leave the box unassuming in appearance. That way no one gets the inkling to explore its contents. I think that this setup could easily work for a full time shrine on the DL, if you wanted. It would be small, but it would be very discreet.

Travel_shrine_Open

I’m super happy to finally have a travel shrine that is more formal than what I’ve used in the past. It wasn’t quite what I was expecting to make, but I think it’s turned out nice all the same.

 
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Posted by on June 14, 2016 in Kemeticism

 

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Perfect

Perfection is a tricky thing. When used in moderation, it can drive us to do better and become better. When used poorly, it can cause us stress and create problems in our lives. I think that most of us understand that perfection is nearly impossible to achieve, and yet many of us spend our entire lives trying to get as close to perfect as possible. I think that’s understandable in a way. We’re taught very early on that perfection is an ideal, and that anything less means that we’re doing something wrong, that we’re mediocre, or that we’ll never be good enough. We’re taught to fear the alternative to perfection, and in some ways, we’re taught that being anything less than your best at all times means you’re a failure.

I also think that many people want to be as close to perfect as possible because we believe that when everything is perfect, we’ll be happier. Everything would be better, and everything would be smoother and easier. The problem with this lies in the fourth sentence in the paragraph above: perfection is impossible to achieve. Especially for long periods of time. We’re flawed beings doing our best to make things work. Imperfection is really an inherent trait of humanity whether we like it or not.

Within our larger society, it’s being shown that the need to be perfect is ruining a lot of lives. It can create unhealthy attitudes towards ourselves and towards others. But what about in our smaller communities? How does perfection play into how we interact with our fellow co-religionists?

I’ve found myself mulling on this a lot recently. There has been a lot of activity within the community as to how people think one should act vs. how people have been acting. There have been disagreements about what should be our standard protocol for behaviour, and in the grand scheme of things, I think it’s a reasonable conversation to have, especially considering how close action and ma’at feed into one another. Being a predominantly orthopraxic religion means that actions speak louder than beliefs, and in order to do our best to live in ma’at, we need to be reflective on what actions are best for ourselves and the community. However, in some instances, I have found myself thinking that people expect too much out of their fellows and peers and expect too little of themselves. It’s very easy to get caught up in what you feel others “should” be doing and too easy to forget that we all make mistakes. As my grandmother used to tell me: “When you point your finger at someone, remember that there are three fingers pointing back at yourself”.

In that spirit, I might be able to make the argument that ma’at and perfection can be seen as being one and the same in a lot of ways. Ma’at is the ideal state of being/acting/doing in Kemeticism. We all strive to behave and act in ma’at and to lace ma’at into everything that we do. However, I’m pretty sure most of us would agree that we fail sometimes. Some of us fail a lot of the time. It’s all part of that being human thing I mentioned above. Like perfection, ma’at can be a useful tool. It can help us strive to become more, to become better. It can be something that enriches and fulfills our life as we learn how to weave it into our daily experiences. However, also like perfection, ma’at can be turned into a bludgeoning tool made to control and belittle others. It can be used to hurt people and make them feel like they are inadequate or that they are failures. This is particularly true when the two are married, and you suddenly see people uttering the words “you are not acting in ma’at” (or alternatively “your actions embody isfet”), which might as well be the same as “you are not hitting the level of perfection that I expect of you, and therefore you are a failure”.

This sort of culture can be incredibly damaging on so many levels. It teaches people that they can never make mistakes within the community without having to bear the stigma of having messed up. It teaches people that if they ever step out of line, they can expect a mob of people to come out and berate them. It teaches us that we have to become an almost fake and unrealistic form of ourselves in order to make people feel comfortable (which reinforces about every form of “ism” you can shake a stick at). Having a bad day? Better not go on the internet lest you make a faux pas. Find out that you made an error in a statement that you made? Good luck moving beyond that because you’re never going to remove that foot from your mouth because we won’t let you.

It makes it so that no one can really have any room to breath because they’re too worried about screwing up. In those instances, our religion becomes less about learning and growing, and more about fitting into a mold that has been laid out for us.

Perfectionism also extends beyond behaviours. There are many who seem to believe that there is a certain level or bar to hit with practices, too. If you’re not offering a certain way, you’re missing that bar of perfection and therefore a failure. If you’re not being historically accurate enough, you’re missing the bar. If you’re making too many jokes, you’re missing the bar. Or dare I say it? Not practicing and/or living in ma’at.

When used poorly, perfectionism stalls people’s growth and desire to try new things in their practice. What could be a warm and loving experience becomes something that is stifling and nerve-wracking. A lot of people come to our religion already afraid they’re going to mess up. Why do we make it worse on people by adding even more unrealistic expectations upon them? Why do we expect everyone to act exactly how we think they should? Why is it that only our personal bars and measures for success ever seem to matter? Why is it that it seems like so many people don’t have the capacity to understand that we are all learning and doing at our own speeds and paces, and doing so in our own ways? There isn’t only one way to do something or to be. Why can’t we learn to give some of our co-religionists some room to fumble around?

Now, with all of this being said, I want to emphasize here that there is an opposite end of this spectrum, too.

I think it goes without saying that I believe that we still have to have some level of standard of decorum within our communities. Not having any rules at all leaves people open and vulnerable to being attacked, abused or manipulated. So please do not take this post to mean that we shouldn’t have any rules at all. Much like with the ma’at comparison made above, it’s about balance and striking a middle ground between the members of our community. It’s about having enough structure to ensure that our members stay safe and aren’t subjected to bigotry or marginalization, but being open enough to allow people to practice freely and safely while interacting with the community. And of course, there are certain rules that I personally feel should be more important than others (such as rules that protect members and people over rules that protect the religious structure or preferences in practice), although others may feel differently.

In the end, I think that we all need to try and remember that none of us is perfect, and it’s unrealistic to expect perfection. We’re all doing the best that we can to try and manage our lives with our religious practices, and everything that is involved with both. We all start somewhere, and we all have our biases to overcome and learn from. And in that spirit, we should all be doing some self-reflection on our own imperfections, not just fussing over the imperfections of others.

How does perfection play into your community experience? Do you find that the pressure for perfection makes interactions difficult? Do you find yourself focusing too much on the imperfections of yourself or of others?

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Posted by on June 1, 2016 in Boat Paddlers Arsenal, Kemeticism

 

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Devoted without Devotion: Why?

I wrote a post last year about some of my revelations and experiences of devoting yourself to the gods even when you don’t feel a whole lot of emotion towards them. It’s one of my favorite posts, I think, because it really does sum up a lot of my experiences not only with the gods, but with life itself. Due to the broken structure of my brain, or perhaps it’s just my nature in general, I don’t base a lot of what I do off of my feelings, and ever since I wrote that post, I’ve become more and more okay with this. I have become okay with being devoted while not feeling the devotion (aka the love). In many ways, I wear it like a badge of honor that I have managed to continue to develop my relationship with the NTRW despite my emotions sometimes telling me to quit.

I am proud of the fact that I can see something through, even when that something becomes frustrating, difficult, or mundane.

Despite that pride in my acceptance of myself (and to an extent, my limitations), there seems to be an awful lot of confusion about why someone would bother to do work for the gods even though they don’t seem to love their gods (this, of course, is all dependent upon how you define love). When this came up on Tumblr (because it’s always Tumblr, amirite?), the confusion seemed to largely come from non-Kemetics. However, I think this is something worth talking about, so that maybe we can reach a better level of understanding about different methods and reasons for different practices styles. So in that spirit, I’m choosing to go a bit more in-depth about the misconceptions of what a somewhat “emotionless” relationship/practice might entail as well as the why behind the continued devotion despite the lack of feelings.

jobunenjoyable

“It’s a job, therefore you don’t like it”

I think one of the biggest points of confusion about my lack of love for my gods is the idea that viewing my work for them as a job, combined with a lack of perceived love for the entities I am doing the work for, inherently means I don’t like it. Now don’t get me wrong, there are days when I definitely don’t like doing this work. Days like when tumblr explodes because Kemetics were talking amongst themselves. Days like when I have to deal with drama within the community or on one of the boards I admin for. Days when people are being particularly mean to one another, or I see back-biting occurring.

Even in the best of jobs, relationships, and life–there will be bad days.

And due to having depression (and I’m in a fallow period that is coupled with a really bad stretch of depression right now, for context), there are often more days where I dislike doing the work than not. That doesn’t mean that I don’t always like the job, though. And calling something a job doesn’t necessarily mean that I dislike it, either. There are certainly people who love what they do for a living. Jobs and enjoyment aren’t mutually exclusive. You can call something a job, and still get enjoyment out of it. I just happen to be the kind of person who will take something more seriously if I call it a job. For me, calling something a job reflects how serious it is for me. It’s more than a hobby or something I do when I happen to have time. And that’s part of why I call it a job–because it keeps me serious about getting the work done.

Of course, that doesn’t answer why I continue to do the job despite it’s bad days. Unlike a bad day job, I don’t get paid for this, so I can’t cite that. Surely there has to be some reason, right? (the answer to that is yes, and I will get into that in a minute.)

whydoit_somanydevotees

“There are other people who can do the work”

Another misconception that I saw thrown around was that there are certainly other people who love the gods more, and surely they can do the work instead of a negative nancy like me, right?

Perhaps in other religious groups there are enough devotees to spread the work around (I disagree, but maybe I’m wrong), but Kemeticism is not one of those religions currently. As small as we still are now, there was a time when we were even smaller. In the time when I was first contacted by Set, there was very little to speak of in regards to an online Kemetic community. Nearly everything was KO driven, and there were only two small groups that existed outside of KO (Children of Kemet and eCauldron’s SIG). So the assumption that there is enough people doesn’t really work for our community.

To build off of that, even if there were enough people to spread the work around, it’s entirely possible that the gods might have felt I could do this particular job better than another person. I think that many times the gods hand us work based off of what we are good at doing, not necessarily what we want to do (which is why I didn’t get to be a priest, I assume). So to that end, it’s worth remembering that sometimes the gods don’t really care about what we want. They care that we get the work done.

There are also other factors including having enough time to get the job done, having the resources and tools to get the job done, beyond the basics of how effective you are at the job. In the mundane world, we say that love doesn’t pay the bills. In the Unseen, love can certainly be a useful tool or asset, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s going to get the job done that needs doing. I may not have a heart overflowing with love for my gods (though I think I might have once upon a time), but I certainly did get the work done.

And that is a sort of love, in a way, is it not?

whystay

And now we get to the part that everyone is actually interested in- the big fat “why” behind why weird ol’ me continues to do this work despite breaking the holiest of holy commandments, which is not loving my gods. This list is not exhaustive (I could probably give you a solid ten, but then this post would be really long), but I think highlights the top three reasons behind why I stick around.

Reason 1: I said I would

One of the first things you have to understand about me is that I place a lot of value in my promises and my word. I don’t sign up for projects and then drop them. I don’t start stuff and not finish it (although sometimes it can take a long time to finish a project, due to life getting in the way). And that is the same for this situation, too. Set found me, and told me that he wanted me to help build a thing (and later to do other things). I agreed to help because I was starstruck and naive.

However, just because I am less naive and a bit more jaded now doesn’t mean that I’m going to revoke my agreement. I said I would help with what he wanted to build, and I aim to see that through.

I recently saw someone say that devotion is a series of choices, and I have chosen to stick this out even when every part of me wants to quit.

Reason 2: It allows me to help people

One of the biggest things I love about the work that I do for Set is that it allows me to help people. While I may not always love Set, and I may not always love his methods, I do have a love for what his methods and direction have created. Yes, it sucks that a large portion of my life is spent dealing with drama. Yes, it sucks that I’ve made enemies along the way that I probably could have avoided otherwise. Yes, it sucks that there are days when I really want to be lazy, but instead need to get something done because he told me to.

But when I get anons telling me that my posts have helped them, all of that becomes worth it. When people tell me that I’ve made a difference in their life, that makes all of the hell worth it.

I once equated myself to a guinea pig for Set. That he would throw me in front of a bus so that I could document it and pass the information on to the rest of you so that you wouldn’t have to be hit by a bus like I was. I go into situations knowing this, and willingly doing it anyways because I know that it could help someone. For me, helping others is one of the main reasons I continue to stay alive. For someone who is a proud nihilist, one of the biggest achievements you can make in life is to help others–it’s the best way to leave a lasting impact that could persist beyond my short lifetime.

Set knows this, and he uses it to his advantage. I let him because it’s one of the only things I’m truly passionate about- helping people.

Reason 3: It serves a purpose (tw suicide mention)

Another reason for why I continue to serve despite not feeling the love sadly comes down to my survival. This isn’t the “woo” spirit worker kind of survival that you often hear about- where the spirit worker has to continue to do the work, lest the spirits kill them. Oh no, this is far more mundane.

What I mean by survival is that it often keeps me from contemplating ending my life.

Yes, there are several other things besides Kemeticism that I use as leverage to keep myself alive in a tough spot. But this whole community shtick is still a pretty hefty thing that I use on the regular. Having something to do with my time that I can convince myself as being bigger than myself, and therefore more important (see reason 2), often keeps me feeling like my life isn’t a complete waste of time. It gives me something to direct my energy at. It gives me something to work towards, even when I don’t feel like working towards anything except a 6 foot hole in the ground.

In that same vein, it’s worth bringing up that many of the people who chose to go after me for my lack of love for the gods seemingly ignored the ties that this has to depression. The implication was that if you don’t love it, you shouldn’t do it–especially if there are many other people who could possibly do it better, and be happier in the process. If I, a depressed person, took that attitude towards everything, I wouldn’t be alive. While I’m sure that there are readers who will disagree with me, in my opinion it’s not a far jump for someone who has problems with suicidal ideation to take that mindset and go “well I don’t love my life or myself, and there are other people who could fulfill the same job and functions that I do, so I should just call it quits.”

For those of us with damaged brain chemistry, listening to our brain every time it decides something isn’t worth doing can become a matter of life and death. This is also another reason why I don’t place so much emphasis on how I feel, because if I based everything off of my feelings, I’d likely not be here to type this out. Kemeticism and all of its trappings has helped me to not take drastic measures during low points in my life.

TL;DR:

So to sum up everything above (because creating a nice, succinct outro was not working):

  • There is nothing wrong with calling your devotion a job. There are several reasons why one may choose to do that, and those reasons may have little to nothing to do with their feelings (or lack thereof) towards the job or role they are fulfilling. Much like with “work with”, let’s quit attaching baggage to words.
  • You can still have a job that is fun. They are not mutually exclusive.
  • There isn’t always enough people to go around to fulfill a function. We should stop assuming that there are enough people to go around. I think there is a reason so many polytheists end up with 3893756 gods knocking on their door. It’s likely because they’re short-staffed.
  • Even in cases where there are enough people to fulfill a role, that doesn’t mean that those people are the best choice. Strong feelings, while nice, don’t instantly make you proficient at a job.
  • The number of devotees available to perform a job also doesn’t invalidate someone else trying to fulfill a role. You can still perform a job, function, or role well while not feeling super awesome about it (and to bring this into a mundane sphere, there is even a ruling that an employer can’t force you to be happy while performing your job, which should further reinforce this point), and the fact that others might be able to do the same stuff as you doesn’t make your actions any less valid. Another person’s success doesn’t inherently mean you’re a failure.
  • The reasons why I continue to stick around and perform my role for Set include:
    • I told him I would, aka I’m loyal
    • It helps me to fulfill some of my own personal ideals for a well-lived life (aka helping people, trying to leave a positive impact on the world around me)
    • It’s one more thing in my arsenal to use against my depression
    • It allows me to learn and grow as a person, while also fulfilling the above

Hopefully this helps to clear up some of the miscommunications that were occurring earlier this month. If anyone has questions, I am more than willing to clarify and explain a bit more about anything listed above.

 
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Posted by on May 19, 2016 in Kemeticism, Rambles

 

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Slacker Gods

It is said that a lot of Kemeticism is based on reciprocity. For those of you who don’t know what reciprocity is, it’s commonly defined as “the practice of exchanging things with others for mutual benefit, especially privileges granted by one country or organization to another.” Or in other words, I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine. I have worded this before in other posts as “we help keep the NTRW full and focused by giving offerings, and in return, they help keep our existence running smoothly”. We help the gods by fulfilling ma’at so that they can survive, and in return, they help make our lives a bit easier (in whatever fashion that that might entail).

Reciprocity is a really interesting concept, and it’s one of my favorite parts of Kemeticism. I love that it’s less about humans prostrating before gods (though you can do that if that’s your thing, no judgement from me), and more about gods and humans working together to make existence better for everyone.

However, there seems to be a missing part of the discussion about reciprocity: what happens when it seems like the gods aren’t fulfilling their end of the bargain? What happens when a devotee and a god have an agreement about “you do X, and I’ll do Y in return” and the god doesn’t come through? What happens when it feels like the gods are slacking off?

Not too long ago, this very discussion was sparked over on Tumblr. It started with a Kemetic devotee reflecting on their current relationship with the gods, and how they felt that the gods weren’t pulling their weight. I know at least a few Kemetics have been wondering and pondering the same things as of late (though many of us hadn’t been public about this), and I know I at least was excited to engage in this conversation. I feel that this is an important thing to discuss, as it’s come up for at least a few of us, and usually if a few of us are experiencing it, there are many others feeling the same way– they’re just not talking about it.

Unfortunately our discussion was cut short when a bunch of non-Kemetics jumped in and started to derail the conversation with mentions of hubris (something Kemeticism doesn’t have) and a side-note of “how dare you.” The conversation came to a premature close because no one felt safe enough to continue it anymore.

This is frustrating because I think this is an important conversation to have regardless of whether it makes a few people uncomfortable. As it turns out, I had made a mention of my own problem with Set falling through on his promises to me back in 2014 (something I had forgotten I even mentioned until I happened upon the post a week or so ago), but I didn’t really go in-depth about what devotees could or should do in such situations. Given that the response over on Tumblr from fellow Kemetics was relatively positive before things went to hell, I really want to open the discussion over here on WP where I have more control over comments and responses so that those who were interested in discussing this further might be able to do so in a safer space.

The Meat and Potatoes of Reciprocity: Offerings and Blessings

Now blessings is probably not quite the right word for this, but I’m going to use blessings for this post to mean “stuff that the gods give to a devotee”. This stuff could be protection, a new shiny job, a trinket, a windfall of money, etc. Basically anything that the god might give a devotee in return for their devotion and/or offerings. And I’ll be using offerings to mean anything that a devotee does for a god– whether it be food offerings, spirit work or work in the Unseen, community rites or rituals, offerings of time or devotion, art, jewelry, etc.

In many ways, reciprocity is based off of a trade of like for like. I give you offerings of your liking, and in return you give me something that I need or want. Usually, the exchange of offerings and blessings is relatively equal in nature, and sometimes the exchange is done organically because each party wishes to bestow gifts upon the other, and other times it’s officially contracted or predetermined through an oath, promise or something similar. To cite my own experience as an example, Set and I had decided that I would do work for him in the Duat for a period of time, and once that period of time was up, he would assist me with my finances and job situation, as they are not ideal. For those who are curious about what happened, I had fulfilled my term of work in the Duat, only to find out that Set had tried to fulfill his end of the bargain, but couldn’t seem to wrangle up whatever was needed to fulfill his end of our deal.

Based off of what I had seen on Tumblr during this fiasco, I’m fairly certain that many people in other traditions might feel that humans have no basis to request or demand that a god do something for them. The historical precedence for it in Kemeticism aside, if a person feels like standing up to a god and saying “you should be doing more for me because of all that I’ve done for you”, that’s their prerogative and issue, not mine or yours. When many Kemetics tried to explain to people how it was part of a NTR’s job to help the humans that offer to them, it seems that many people shrugged off the notion and continued to be offended despite the fact that there are books that say the exact same thing we were saying. For example:

The magician is speaking on behalf of humanity; reminding heaven tat if people are not regularly cured and protected that they will lose faith in the gods and cease to make offerings, maintain the temples, and respect sacred animals. The magician is only demanding the enforcement of a kind of divine contract. If the gods do not help mankind, the whole divine order will collapse.” (pg 73-75)

It doesn’t benefit the gods to ignore their devotees’ needs. It doesn’t benefit the gods to only take and never give. So that begs to ask, why do the gods seem to be falling short for so many devotees?

The Logistics of Blessings:

I think in order to answer that, we have to look at some of the logistics of what it takes to fulfill blessings and requests on the gods’ end. Obviously, I am not a god and I don’t pretend to know all of the aspects of what goes into fulfilling blessings, but I have talked with Set about this several times and watched quite a bit of politicking in the Duat that has given me a big heaping pile of UPG on the subject. So you can take this for whatever it’s worth.

I would hope that most everyone gets that blessings aren’t always easy to fulfill. Our gods aren’t all-powerful, and they have their limitations just like we do. On top of that, the human world isn’t exactly fair in how it doles things out, and I think that can play a role in how easy it is for a blessing to be made manifest. It seems that back in AE, the most common requests for the gods were probably things like “make sure the harvest is good” or “please cure this illness” or “get this person out of my life (or in my life)” or things like that. I feel that in some ways, the jobs were simpler and easier, especially for societies that weren’t run off of currency. In the modern era, I don’t need a good harvest, I need a job that pays well, or I need money to suddenly appear out of nowhere because a big bill came up, etc. Sure, you still have some of the same stuff from yesteryear–cure this illness, hurt or help that person, etc. But unlike back in the day, nearly everything needs to have money in order for it to happen. And for most of us, money doesn’t just come from nowhere. Most of us don’t work in companies that can suddenly give raises, or work for employers that are going to magically give you a bonus just because.

So I think one of the first big hurdles with blessings is that the gods are experiencing a learning curve on how to get blessing to their devotees. While I think the inherent nature of a lot of what devotees ask for is the same, the methods needed to obtain those blessings is not. And this isn’t even getting into the issues of societal limitations that the god has to attempt to work around in order to manifest what is needed. Something that could have been relatively simple once upon a time is likely a lot harder in our current society.

Another factor is the recent influx of devotees. Speaking purely for the NTRW, there have been quite a few Kemetics that have joined the ranks in the past few years, and it’s possible that the NTRW are short-staffed and unable to handle the workload. Pending on what sorts of offerings are coming in, that may dictate how many blessings get addressed or handled (since offerings are supposed to be related to the resources the NTRW have to work with). Not to mention that there are discrepancies between gods (UPG warning) as to who should be given what. Similar to how many managers have to deal with a budget and approval process involving upper management, sometimes I feel like the NTRW have to run some of their stuff through other higher-ranking gods for approval, and things don’t always work out how they want or expect. And if a god is trying to handle requests from multiple devotees at once, it’s possible that things can bottle-neck or get put on hold while the god works through everyone’s needs. In a lot of popular media showing this sort of thing, usually the god has a bunch of helpers to ensure that things run smoothly, but who knows what kind of assistance the NTRW are getting.

And of course, the offerings coming in from devotees certainly aren’t to the same scale as in antiquity. Who knows what sort of effect that has on the gods’ ability to manifest in the physical, or make things happen in the physical. It’s equally possible that the gods are having a hard time handling the difference between what was and what currently is. I imagine it’s a learning curve for everyone- humans and gods alike.

These are obviously not the only considerations, but they are worth noting. I think in order for the conversation about gods fulfilling blessings to be balanced, we need to be considerate of what the gods might be having to deal with as well.

Opening up the dialogue: What exactly is everyone owed?

So given that Kemeticism is largely based on reciprocity, and it’s apparent that there is a disconnect between what the gods are receiving vs. what they’re giving, that begs us to ask–

  • What should a devotee expect to receive when they engage in devotional acts for a god (if anything)?
  • What should a god expect from their devotees, especially given that most of us don’t have the resources to be priests or give on the same level as a temple would have in antiquity?
  • What should be the proper protocol for when a god doesn’t do the work they promised they’d do? If a human were unable to fulfill a contract, you know that all hell would probably break loose because “how dare a human break an oath or promise”, and yet when a god does the same, apparently humans are supposed to just deal with it?
  • If a deity can’t keep their contracts in order, should a devotee even bother to do dealings with the god in the first place? What is reasonable in terms of failing to uphold a promise (whether for gods or devotees)? How far is too far?
  • Most importantly– how do we handle these situations when they happen, because they are happening.

I don’t think that we’ll all agree on the answers to these questions, but I think they’re worth discussing. I know that a lot of people feel uncomfortable saying that they think their gods aren’t pulling their weight, or that the gods owe humans anything at all. However, for devotees who have gone above and beyond for their gods, or who wrote out contracts with them only to have them fall through would probably disagree with you. I know that when this was discussed on Tumblr, I saw a lot of the same old rhetoric of “if the gods aren’t giving you blessings, then you must not be doing something right.” But I honestly don’t think that’s the case, and it’s not an answer I’m really willing to accept.

They say that it rains on the just and the wicked alike, and it’s important to remember that perceived blessings don’t always equate to doing things right, in the same way that a lack of blessings doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doing something wrong. We often say that our gods aren’t omniscient or all-powerful, and we have to keep this in mind when it comes to blessings and contracts as well. There are many factors that go into why someone may or may not receive something, and we shouldn’t assume that the quantity of blessings necessarily relates to the devotee’s “inherent” worth.

Now while I don’t expect my answers to be the same as everyone else reading this, I did want to give my two cents regarding how I think handling these kinds of situations could be handled. That way, if someone in a similar situation happens across this post, they have some ideas they can work with.

Some Thoughts:

First off is that I don’t think devotees should go into relationships with the gods purely on the basis of getting blessings out of it. I still think that the best way to start out is simply because you want to get to know them, or because it has a place within your religious practice, etc. I know that I personally didn’t get involved with Set or Osiris because I expected them to bestow lots of blessings on me (and for a long time, I refused to ask them for assistance with anything). I think that going into a relationship with a god with the end goal of getting free stuff is likely going to set you up for heartache and frustration (because my experience with the gods has shown me that they’re pretty bad at fulfilling basic needs of devotees, or in other words, they’re unreliable).

That being said, I do think that the gods should be doing more for those who are in true need of assistance, and for those who are actively doing a lot for their deity. Further, if a god has been under contract to give the devotee something, and they fall through, I think that the devotee is within their rights to be upset about that. Alternatively, if a god says they will fulfill a need, but only does so in the barest sense, I think there is room for some discussion about whether they’ve really done their best to help their devotee. And the bargaining power that the devotee has is probably going to depend upon how much work they’ve put in to their end of things, too. If you were slow to finish the work, or were sloppy in your execution of the work, you’re probably not going to have as much leverage in your negotiating.

To go back to my own situation with Set, when he couldn’t fulfill his end of the contract, we both agreed that I would be allowed to drop the additional work he had asked of me until he could uphold his end of the deal. With each month or attempt that has failed, I have been allowed to withdraw and do less because what I asked of him was crucial to my ability to be able to continue doing the work that he’s been wanting. We also agreed that if I wanted to do more for him, I could, but that that was on me.

If you find yourself in a situation where a god isn’t following through on contract, I think you’re within your ability to null the contract and withhold work or offerings until the god follows through. If your god skimps on their follow through, I would advise sitting down and talking with the deity about your concerns with what they’ve provided, and seeing if you can reach some sort of agreement. Or, learn to write a better contract that doesn’t allow them to skimp on you.

For situations where you’re not under contract, I still believe that it’s in the god’s best interest to take care of you, especially if you are doing good, consistent work. In those cases, I think it’s worth talking with your gods, and being firm in your needs. I would treat it a lot like a conference with your boss, honestly. Have reasons why you feel you deserve whatever you’re asking for. Show how what you’re asking for is important, and how it will ultimately help and benefit the gods as well (I call this “help me help you”). Of course, the god can still say no. And if they do, it’s up to each individual to figure out how they want to handle that situation. It’s not unheard of to flat out threaten the NTRW if they don’t give you what you feel you need, and you could go that route if you wanted. You could also withhold offerings or services if you wanted to as well. Like with any threat to a god, don’t promise or threaten with what you can’t achieve.

As stated above, there is no one right or wrong answer to any of these issues, and how you handle the situation is going to depend on what you’re comfortable with and what you’re prepared to deal with. Some people may not think its in the human’s right to make demands or even requests, and that’s fine so long as you’re not dictating that others can’t attempt to make demands if that’s what they want to do. If negotiating falls apart, there are lots of other options for you to consider ranging from very passive to very aggressive and everything in between. Even though this conversation is likely going to make some people uncomfortable, or even down right angry, I think it’s worth considering how to handle these situations, because as I stated above, they are happening whether we want to acknowledge it or not.

Have you ever felt like a god was slacking in their role? Have you ever felt like the gods weren’t taking care of you despite the work you’re putting in? How do you feel about the concept of gods not taking care of their devotees? How would you go about things if you ever found yourself in such a situation?

 
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Posted by on May 5, 2016 in Kemeticism

 

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Ma’at, Order and Everything in Between

I recently started reading Violence in the Service of Order: the Religious Framework for Sanctioned Killings in Ancient Egypt by Kerry Muhlenstein, and while I’m only a chapter or so into the book, it’s given me quite a bit to think about in terms of ma’at and how it might be applied to the modern era. In the first chapter of the book, Muhlenstein talks about how most sanctioned acts of violence (such as corporeal punishment for criminals, ritual slayings/sacrifices) in AE were done to help preserve the order that existed in that era:

The concept of sacrifice acting to preserve rather than destroy is well articulated by Davies, who postulates that throughout human society “the act [sacrifice] was required, to save the people from calamity and the cosmos from collapse. Their object was, therefore, more to preserve than to destroy life.”69 Thus, sacrifice, in partnership with punishment and law, was aimed at bringing about social and cosmic order, at establishing the correct unity.70 This is especially true of ancient Egypt, a society which concentrated so heavily on the correct cosmic and social order embodied in Ma ‘at. As Willems writes, neither human sacrifice nor execution was so much a matter of revenge as it was an act of countering disorder. (Page 26)

In addition to killing to preserve Order, there is also a sense of othering that often comes with it. When the Egyptians found someone that was other, and this other worked against their perceptions of what was Orderly (read: in ma’at), then the person in question would be aligned with rebels, with people Who Are Not a Part of Our Cool Kids Club (aka society), and would then be disposed of in whatever means they saw fit. All in an attempt to preserve their ideas of Order:

That which qualified someone as a potential sacrificial victim was a sense of “otherness.” In some cases it could be a particularly valuable or holy-and thus “other”-victim. More often it was “exterior or marginal individuals, incapable of establishing or sharing the social bonds that link the rest of the inhabitants. Their status as foreigners or enemies, their servile condition, or simply their age prevents these future victims from fully integrating themselves into the community.”82 It was just such a lack of integration that made both the extraordinarily holy or great and the extraordinarily unholy or despicable individual a candidate for sacrifice. In Egypt, in particular, those who, through their actions, identified themselves with Isfet, could become candidates for sacrifice. Thus Willems writes that it is in keeping with Egyptian thought that their criminals should be sacrificed. (Pages 28-29)

Think of it like a playing-for-keeps execration. But instead of burning a sheet of paper, you’re burning people.

This got me thinking about Order and other-ness, and how it has applied to various cultures across the centuries. While ancient Egypt was relatively similar in how it did things throughout its history, there were still changes that occurred as the culture’s ideas about what was socially acceptable or what was considered to be within ma’at shifted over the years. And even if ancient Egypt had been static in its approach to what was considered the best sort of Order to build a society around, we don’t live in ancient Egypt anymore, and some of their ideas probably don’t fit into the modern practitioner’s world view.

So that then begs to ask, what sort of Order are we trying to build? What sort of Order should we be aiming for? Who or what should be considered as “other”? What kinds of behaviour fall outside of ma’at? Who or what do we want to exclude, if we want to exclude anything/one at all?

If I look to my home country for ideas, I can see that our country’s Order is supposed to be based off freedom and pursuit of your dreams. That sounds great on paper, but our society seems to only want that for a small group of people (originally only for Protestant, white, married men who owned land). The list of “others” in our society is incredibly long, and brings a lot of inequality into our ideas of what proper Order should look like. Of course, those who fall into the “other” category don’t particularly like being excluded from the protections of Order, and as such have been trying to change what Order looks like for our country. This is why we are currently in the middle of a struggle between several groups of people. Some of which want to change the Order of our society. Some of which want it to stay the same.

Possibly due to the fact that so many Kemetics are from the US, or possibly because people are relatively similar across time and location, this has been mirrored in our own community as well:

  • Some Kemetics don’t want any sort of social issues involved in the religion, because that doesn’t fit into their idea of Order. When people start to push social issues into the community, they become “othered” for their attempts.
  • Some Kemetics want to bring social issues in because it’s part of their idea of ma’at. These people might be inclined to “other” those who don’t support social issues or work to fix them.
  • Some Kemetics are okay with certain social issues, but not all social issues. They might only “other” particularly bad cases of bigotry.
  • Some Kemetics want a community that is broken up based off of practice type and model. The practice style would then create the Order, and anyone who doesn’t practice in a similar fashion might be “othered”.
  • Some Kemetics want a community where social behaviour is more important than practice structure. In this case, the code of behaviour becomes the Order, the practice style is irrelevant, and those who don’t fit into the ideal for behaviour might be “othered” regardless of practice style.
  • Some Kemetics want a no holds barred sort of community, where anyone can say anything regardless of how it’s said. In this case, no one will ever be “othered” due to their all-encompassing definition/perceptions of Order.
  • Other Kemetics want everyone to behave a certain particular way, because that’s how they consider ma’at to apply to social behaviour. They will “other” anyone who doesn’t behave exactly as they want, regardless of the legitimacy (or lack thereof) for their actions.

You’ve got a lot of different ideas of how our community should be built, run, etc. You’ve got a lot of different ideas about what Order should look like and who should be allowed to participate or not (aka who should be considered “othered” and who shouldn’t). It should go without saying that this creates some level of conflict between all of us, especially when it comes to that “othering”.

This can be further compounded by the format that we use to interact with one another. It’s pretty well known that text is hard to understand in terms of tone, and it can often lead to people blowing up, misunderstandings and arguments. These kinds of interactions are particularly important, as our understanding of what should be considered a part of Order and who should be “othered” will influence how we handle difficult social interaction within the community.

Of course, there are a few tools in our arsenal for figuring out whether someone’s behaviour is within our perceived idea of Order. We have the yardstick of dickery to help dictate whether someone is being a dick or not, and some suggestions on how to handle those situations. In cases where forums or FB groups are the venue, there are rules that dictate the group’s idea of Order that you’re supposed to follow as a member, which also give details on how to handle rule breakers.

However, these things don’t always work as there are plenty of groups who don’t apply their rules consistently or effectively when people break them (aka groups with lackluster admin staff). And when the interaction happens outside of a location that has admin staff, it becomes a matter of one Kemetic’s idea of Order and “othering”  clashing against another Kemetic’s idea of Order and “othering”. This is where most of the worst friction can occur, as some Kemetics believe that those that fall into their “other” category are fair game to treat however they see fit. There are Kemetics who simply don’t have good peopling skills, and make social faux pas regularly. Other co-religionists may then jump in and take sides, and it can spiral out of control if we’re not careful.

There are a lot of grey areas for figuring out how to handle such interactions within the community, and each individual will probably have different ideas on the best way to handle them. Figuring out what to do about these grey areas will probably be a less-than-smooth process, as is usually the case when you’re trying to establish a protocol or identify your idea of Order:

This is relevant in the modern era, given that our society is not entirely just or fair to it’s people. That may leave many readers wondering “how does ma’at fit into such a society? Is it better to go with what is already established, even if it possibly harms portions of the population? What is considered Good or Right in such a setting?” If literature from the First Intermediate Period has anything to say about it, ma’at rests in caring for the vulnerable and underserved, and working to reestablish true justice, fairness and order within the surrounding society. That means that sometimes you have to be the fly in the ointment, because reestablishing what is Good in a society often means upsetting others. But if one never steps forward to help reestablish, then ma’at can never prevail. Karenga, 61

If nothing else, this book has highlighted a potentially glaring issue in our community as it continues to grow and move forward: we haven’t fully established what we consider to be a part of our Order, nor have we established who we think should be “othered” (if anyone at all).

In the business world, it’s recommended that you create a Mission Statement when you create your business as a means to help direct your business where you want it to go. It also helps your employees to understand what your business is out to achieve, its ethics and its approach to business. Then the employee can tailor their actions to fit within that business model. Our community doesn’t really have such a thing outside of “living in ma’at”. Of course, ma’at is subjective and vague, and as mentioned above, this obscurity can create a lot of friction between members. Perhaps this is because we haven’t taken the time to truly discuss what we think a modern Kemetic community should look like beyond the basics of “maintain ma’at”.

Maybe it’s time that we started to look into changing that. Otherwise, I foresee a lot of the same friction that is occurring now continuing indefinitely into the future.

Do you think there is any benefit in discussing what modern Kemeticism’s idea Order should look like? If so, what do you think our community’s Order should look like?

Do you think that there are any particular groups of people that would fit into the “other” category? Why or why not? If you believe that there is a group worth “othering”, would they ever be able to move from that category, or are they permanently labeled as such?

How do you think the community should handle the idea of a mission statement beyond “live in ma’at”? How should we handle the friction that occurs between different members that may have drastically different ideas about what the “correct” way to practice Kemeticism is?

If anyone decides to take a stab at these prompts, let me know and I’ll create a responses section below!

 
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Posted by on April 27, 2016 in Boat Paddlers Arsenal, Kemeticism

 

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